Subsurface temperature data from a borehole located in a desert wash were measured and used to delineate the conductive and advective heat transfer regimes, and to estimate the percolation quantity associated with the 1997-1998 El Ni??no precipitation. In an arid environment, conductive heat transfer dominates the variation of shallow subsurface temperature most of the time, except during sporadic precipitation periods. The subsurface time-varying temperature due to conductive heat transfer is highly correlated with the surface atmospheric temperature variation, whereas temperature variation due to advective heat transfer is strongly correlated with precipitation events. The advective heat transfer associated with precipitation and infiltration is the focus of this paper. Disruptions of the subsurface conductive temperature regime, associated with the 1997-1998 El Ni??no precipitation, were detected and used to quantify the percolation quantity. Modeling synthesis using a one-dimensional coupled heat and unsaturated flow model indicated that a percolation per unit area of 0.7 to 1.3 m height of water in two weeks during February 1998 was responsible for the observed temperature deviations down to a depth of 35.2 m. The reported study demonstrated quantitatively, for the first time, that the near surface temperature variation due to advective heat transfer can be significant at a depth greater than 10 m in unsaturated soils and can be used to infer the percolation amount in thick unsaturated soils.
Additional Publication Details
Percolation induced heat transfer in deep unsaturated zones
Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering